Puerto Rico has so many places to visit and sights to see for travelers with cheap airfare tickets. Covered by rugged, picturesque mountains and surrounded by Caribbean beachfront, this island in the greater Antilles has something for everyone. If you’re checking out flights to Puerto Rico and looking for a scenic natural destination, head to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical forest that belongs to the United States’s national forest system. Once called the Caribbean National Forest, this area is home to 28,000 acres of tropical forest and is an up-and-coming ecotourism destination. Book cheap tickets to Puerto Rico and go green in El Yunque National Forest.
El Yunque is one of the most biodiverse spots in the Caribbean, with over 240 species of trees and plants, including many heliconia and fern species. 23 of these species are only found in El Yunque. This is also one of the oldest reserved forest spots in the western hemisphere, as it was first protected in 1876 by Spanish royalty. Before this distinction, it had been considered a sacred place for centuries by the pre-Columbian Taino Indians. The name of the forest comes from the Taino word for the area, Yuquiye, meaning “Forest of Clouds.” The farther up you hike, the cloudier the forest becomes, with the highest spots known as the Dwarf Forest and covered with mosses, orchids and Bromeliads. Here you can listen to indigenous coqui tree frogs chirping away through the mist. Much of the forest is on and around the slopes of the Luquillo Mountains. Bird watchers traveling with cheap airfares on flights to Puerto Rico will love seeing the Puerto Rican parrot, a colorful, endangered Amazon parrot, as well as more than 50 other bird species. There are small waterfall and cave systems to see and explore.
It is free to enter the forest and walk the 24 miles of hiking trails, although a stop at the helpful visitors’ center for information is $3.00. For a guided one-hour tour of the forest, a $5.00 donation is required. If you’d like to get some beach time in with your discount plane tickets and still be close enough to the forest to visit, try the beaches at Luquillo, which are part of a reef’s protected swimming area and have some great views of the forest. To stay close to the forest, consider a hotel in Rio Grande, a town right at the entrance to El Yunque. Another option is staying at an ecolodge right inside the forest or getting a permit to camp in it at designated spots. However you experience El Yunque, browse discount airfares and cheap flights to Puerto Rico today and experience this national forest’s natural wonders.